Although during summer soup for lunch might not make much sense, Sydney does get pretty cold come June. And when you’re in the midst of the working day, there is nothing more comforting that a bowl of steaming-hot soup to warm your cockles and help you power through the afternoon. Here are our favourite soups in the city right now.
Try the... beef pho Who knew there was an adorable little pho stand right at Circular Quay? Making everything out of their tiny back kitchen right under the station, Bun Me does banh mi and pho in all shapes and sizes. We’re a fan of the beef pho – the broth is light and gently fragrant with spices. It's served with hoisin for those wanting to sweeten it up – but we like its savoury, umami depth as is. It's topped with slow cooked beef (no raw beef sadly), red and spring onions, crunchy bean sprouts and finely sliced, spicy Thai basil. The addition of chillies doesn't make it too hot for us, but you should be wary if you've got a sensitive disposition. The rice noodles are long, stretchy and plentiful, and it’s served in a cup so you can even eat it on the run. And the best bit? It's only $6.90.
Try the... lentil soup If you don’t know it already, for those that work near Wynyard, Croutons is set to be a Godsend in the cooler months. Down in the Met Centre (use the Jamison Street entrance) these guys are all about soup, with ten steaming hotpots filled with a changing roster ready for take away. The har-mee and laksa are regulars, but we love the nubbly lentil option and the creamy chowder when it's available. Plus the pea and ham is pure comfort food – a thick, green number heavy with the hearty flavour of dried peas (no pieces of ham though which is disappointing). Help yourself to toppings like croutons (of course), soured cream, cheese and hot sauce. Bread is an extra dollar but there are four Sonoma varieties to choose from so at least you're paying for quality. You’ll have to ask for it buttered, and why wouldn't you when we all know butter makes everything better, especially soup.
Try the... prawn laksa The prawn laksa here is the stuff of legend. Dan Hong comes here to get his fix, along with the rest of Sydney, it seems, because it feels like this place is always rammed. You can sit in and watch the crowds on Hunter Street through the panoramic glass windows, or take a steaming pot of laksa back to the office to make all your colleagues jealous. We'd be very impressed if you can finish the small, let alone the 'king' size. The prawn laksa sees heaps of vermicelli noodles tossed with crunchy bean sprouts, and topped with puffed tofu and plenty of little prawns. The soup is creamy but fragrant, and slightly sweeter than you might have had before. Ask for some lime or lemon if you want to balance it out a bit. And a tip: when you're asked if you want chilli sauce, only say yes if you like things spicy, cos this sauce means business (we're not afraid to admit that we left with our eyes watering).
Try the... crispy chicken rice noodle soup There are a few pho places on this busy strip of George Street, just down from Central Station, but this is the one we like best. Sitting here in the window seat watching the crowds rush by, while slurping a piping hot bowl of pho feels very Sydney, no matter where you're from. The pho here bangs with deep, savoury, bone-rich flavour; there's heaps of fresh flat noodles; and the traditional plate of bean sprouts, lemon and big ol'stalks of Thai basil served on the side is piled high and ready to be picked and plonked on top. Order the beef noodle soup for the raw beef, which cooks in your broth as you eat. The crispy chicken rice noodle soup is also a stand out, as you get a massive pile of fried chicken on the side to pick up and gnaw on in between gulps of fragrant soup. A word of warning: we have yet to finish a small, so order the large at your peril. They do takeaway too, but there's something about this sprawling, hectic, always-full restaurant that we'd find ourselves missing if we didn't eat in.
Try the... tonkotsu ramen Sometimes, when it's cold out and you need to be not just warmed-up, but thoroughly comforted, tonkotsu ramen is the only answer. Here at Ramen-O-San inside Dixon House Food Court, the tonkotsu is rich, creamy and pleasingly smoky with the requisite cloud ear mushrooms and green onions resting atop fatty ovals of chashu pork. Jazz things up with a marinated, soft-boiled egg and maybe some veggies like cabbage and leek, which are textural options to seriously consider. The black garlic tonkotsu ramen is also a good option if you want to mix things up.
Like heat? Like chocolate? Lucky you – we scoured the streets of Sydney to find the best hot chocolates in town. And we're still on a jittery sugar high. From thick and rich to smooth and creamy, these five drinks will make any winter's day a whole lot sweeter.